Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I recently discovered, which would seem to be the ultimate triumph of the Internet over classic literature. It will send you moderate-sized portions of a book on a daily basis through email or RSS, so that you can read your Dickens or Hemingway without suffering the embarrassment of being seen with an actual (gasp!) tome in your hands. There are numerous classics available for free, and newer titles for the usual price of an ebook (though I’m not sure why you’d pay $5 for a book that will end up being scattered through your inbox in 100 installments).

Needless to say, I wasn’t sure how useful I would find the service, especially since I've never been able to get in the right frame of mind to read an ebook. When I’ve tried reading classics from, I generally find such a large block of text overwhelming, and give up after a few pages. Curious whether this “daily” format might help, I chose a classic (Pride and Prejudice, which I’ve always put off reading as a “girl’s book,” but recently very much enjoyed as a film) and set it to send the shortest amount possible per day, about half a chapter per email. At that rate, I’d finish Jane Austen’s classic in just 146 days! Heh.

It turns out, I’ve found that not only am I quite able to enjoy reading a novel in this form (at least one so well written as this), but that even after changing the settings to send three times as much text per day, I soon found myself repeatedly clicking the little link at the bottom of each email “to receive the next installment immediately.” For some reason, by breaking it up into manageable chunks, it’s easier to maintain my attention, even if I end up reading several portions in one sitting. In fact, I’ve read three-quarters of the book in the last 4 days, all in chapter and a half increments. I’m hooked.

So I guess that’s proof of my slavery to the Internet Age, but I can’t help but recommend the service, which provides a variety of options for how much and how often you want them to send portions of the book. My only complaints are that occasionally a paragraph break appears in the wrong place (not sure why) and it can feel a little unsettling to begin the next installment without having the previous one right in front of you. It sometimes takes a bit to remember what was happening (or even going back to the previous email for a reminder), especially when the previous day’s email ended in the middle of a chapter. Still, for a free service DailyLit is well worth checking out.


MaggieH said...

Hi Ken,

Hello from DailyLit! We're so glad to hear you're enjoying the service, and we hope you'll see it as we do--a happy (and handy) union between technology and reading.

I wanted to explain the extra line breaks you pointed out. They're there because we automatically break paragraphs after 1000 characters, since blocks of text longer than that increase the likelihood of our emails being flagged as spam.

As for refreshing your memory before beginning to read each day's installment, here's a tip: some of our readers create a "DailyLit" folder in their inbox and keep all of their installments there, so it's very easy to refer back to the previous day's reading.

Hope that helps.

Happy reading!


Ken Brown said...

Thanks Maggie for stopping by my blog, and for the helpful explanations! A dedicated folder for the installments is a great idea.

In any case, I very much appreciate the service, and expect to be a long-time user (especially as more books become available). I've already finished Pride and Prejudice, and will begin another today.